One of the purposes of this blog is to give fans and friends of The Heartland Institute a peek into the kinds of debates we have around here. Spirited discussions are one of the many benefits of working with a group of libertarians who love to argue.
Anyway, Heartland Research Director Sam Karnick this morning shared George Will’s excellent post-election column. (Sam wrote a bit about the column himself here.) It sparked a great exchange of emails that I think you’ll find interesting enough to comment upon yourself below.
First, the Will excerpt:
In 2008, Democrats ran as Not George Bush. In 2010, they ran as Democrats. Hence, inescapably, as liberals, or at least as obedient to liberal leaders. Hence Democrats’ difficulties.
Responding to [a complaint by Newsweek’s Jonathan] Alter [that the Democrats’ problem was a failure to market their ideas well], George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux agreed that interest-group liberalism has indeed been leavened by idea-driven liberalism. Which is the problem.
“These ideas,” Boudreaux says, “are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives. These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits and even moral sentiments.” Liberalism’s ideas are “about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas . . . with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced by government, not by the natural give, take and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people.”
This was the serious concern that percolated beneath the normal froth and nonsense of the elections: Is political power — are government commands and controls — superseding and suffocating the creativity of a market society’s spontaneous order? On Tuesday, a rational and alarmed American majority said “yes.”
First to weigh in was Peter Fotos, Heartland’s Director of Government Relations:
The beauty of it all is that the prospects for Democrats in 2012 are just as bad. Obama will be at the top of the ticket acting as an anchor that weighs the party down. Like this cycle, 2012 has more Dems up for re-election in the Senate than Republicans which is a huge problem for them. Even if the economy begins to turn around, Obama is still going to have an enormously hard time trying to convince the American people that it is because of him and Democrats.
Sam Karnick replies:
Spot-on, Peter. The GOP could blow it by a variety of blunders, but there are clear ways forward from this point, if the party sticks to limited-govt principles in the next two years.
Next is Bruce Walker, managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News:
I’m still not convinced BO will even run for reelection. He’s scaled the mountain with little resistance, mounted the peak, and planted his flag. He did it because it was there, then found out he didn’t much like it. He doesn’t weather criticism well, is used to getting his own way, and is very thin-skinned. He may just step aside, go back to private life and give Hillary another shot.
Back to Sam:
I read somewhere—think it was WSJ—yesterday that Democrat fundraisers have given him until December (I think it was) to decide whether he will run for reelection. Wouldn’t be revealed at that time, I imagine, but the idea of him not running is in the air, to be sure.
And now for the real fireworks. Behold the great Heartland Research Fellow Steve Stanek — who takes a backseat to no one as a curmudgeon.
I agree about Will but have serious doubts about the Republicans. I expect them to roll back nothing in any substantive way, or to even try. They’ll make a lot of noise but won’t do much.
I was reading The Wall Street Journal this morning. They have a big column by Karl Rove headlined “Time for Republicans to Deliver.” What a pathetic joke to have Rove speak of Republicans needing to deliver.
Rove delivered us the Dem takeover and Obama. He and his boss and Republican leaders did this by, among other things:
1) presiding over an 83 percent increase in federal spending from 2000 to 2009;
2) giving us a near-doubling of the national debt;
3) giving us the single largest increase in entitlement spending (Medicare drug benefit) since the 1960s;
4) giving us the largest intrusion of the federal government into public education in national history (No Child Left Behind);
5) giving us the Patriot Act and Homeland Security, which trample freedom and vastly expand government’s abilities to snoop into our lives;
6) giving us THOUSANDS of earmarks that consume tens of billions of dollars each and every year;
7) launching two wars which have now lasted longer than any wars in national history, with no victory or end in sight;
8 ) setting the stage for the financial crisis and then giving us the corruption of TARP and the bailouts.
This list is just off the top of my head and I have to get back to work. The point is all these things were done with a Republican president, House and Senate. Republicans LOVE big government when they are in charge of it. The Republican establishment is seething and will soon co-opt the new crop of Republicans or will drive them out if they don’t play ball.
I witnessed this here in Illinois. We had a Republican senator named Peter Fitzgerald. He insisted on appointing federal prosecutors from outside Illinois so they’d have no personal or political allegiances. Those prosecutors soon started throwing Illinois politicians into prison. One of those politicians is former Gov. George Ryan, a Republican who is sitting in federal prison as I write this.
Because Fitzgerald insisted on cleaning up the fetid cesspool that is Illinois politics, then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert of Illinois and other top Republicans withheld support from Fitzgerald for his reelection. The list includes Bob Kjellander, who at the time was Republican National Committeeman and National Republican Party Treasurer . . . and a friend of Karl Rove’s since their college days. Fitzgerald got the message and did not run. Barack Obama took the Fitzgerald seat, and the rest is contemporary history.
The sympathies of most Republicans in office — and of the Republican puppetmasters who hide in the catwalks to pull their strings — are with those who want more government as long as Republicans run it.
Their motto should be: “Democrats would destroy this country in 20 years; we’ll do it in 30.”
This beautiful rant brought out Joe Bast, Heartland’s president:
I disagree with Steve only in the following: I think the Rs really have their backs up against the wall this time, and have no choice but to implement some of the free-market reforms we’ve worked out for them and that they’ve given lip service to for so many years. I appreciate the origins of Steve’s cynicism, but the world has changed, keeps on changing, and we are not destined to just repeat past mistakes.
To which I replied:
… Joe is right. Steve’s edifying cynicism – which I love (it makes for great reading in emails and listening at the Monday meeting) – might be unwarranted in this case. As the great Joe Biden lamented on the campaign trail: “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat.”
I expect to see growth-oriented supply-side tax cuts plus commiserate spending cuts in the federal budget. It’s the best of both worlds – a growing economy and a shrinking federal leviathan. That was the message of Tuesday. And if Congressional Republicans don’t deliver this, they should expect primary challenges and their own “shellacking.”
What might y’all add to this discussion — and I’m talking to Heartland staffers, contributors to this blog, and our readers. Jump in by using the comment field below.